Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association



The Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association (SATA) was a charity organisation established to detect, treat and eradicate tuberculosis in Singapore.1 It was officially registered on 23 August 1947. Following the decline in tuberculosis cases over the years, SATA shifted its focus to providing community healthcare. In 2009, SATA was rebranded as SATA CommHealth to better reflect its focus on community healthcare as a whole.

Establishment
The idea of forming an organisation to fight tuberculosis in Singapore had originated from some prisoners-of-war during the Japanese Occupation, when tuberculosis cases were on the rise. By the end of the war, tuberculosis had become the number-one killer disease in Singapore.2 Soon, medical doctors such as Chen Su Lan and B. R. Sreenivasan began to call for stronger action to control the spread of tuberculosis. Eventually, several doctors and philanthropists gathered to form SATA, which was launched and registered on 23 August 1947. S. H. Peek was the organisation’s first chairman and G. H. Garlick its first medical director.3


As SATA did not receive any financial aid from the colonial government,4 it embarked on various campaigns to raise funds for its operations. Its fundraising activities included the sale of SATA greeting seals, football matches, a variety show and dance at the Victoria Memorial Hall, and a gala night at the Great World Amusement Park.5

On 29 November 1948, SATA’s first clinic was officially opened by Lady Gimson, wife of Singapore’s then Governor Franklin Gimson. Located at 250 Tanjong Pagar Road, its premises were rented from the St Andrew’s Mission Hospital.6 The clinic, which cost $100,000 to set up, made use of X-ray equipment to screen patients for tuberculosis. Those diagnosed with the disease were then referred to their own doctors, hospitals or the Social Welfare Association for treatment.7 The clinic was manned by doctors who worked on a voluntary basis on weekday evenings.8

On 2 September 1949, SATA opened a treatment centre on Hoe Chiang Road, which adjoined the diagnostic clinic on Tanjong Pagar Road.9 The treatment centre was a temporary unit housed in a prefabricated hut next to the St Andrew’s Mission Hospital. It consisted of three rooms – for treatment, for injections and for the doctors.10

Besides diagnosing and treating tuberculosis, SATA also started immunising youths who were 18 years or younger against tuberculosis on 28 June 1949 with the anti-tuberculosis vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG).11

Key developments, 1950s–1970s
The clinic in Tanjong Pagar soon became crowded, which led SATA to open the $1-million Royal Singapore Tuberculosis Clinic in Shenton Way in 1952. The clinic was officially opened by the Duchess of Kent on 3 October that year, and commenced operations on 3 November.12 The 45,000-square-foot clinic consisted of two wings – one for diagnosis and another for treatment – with separate entrances to prevent the transmission of tuberculosis.13 With the opening of the Royal Singapore Tuberculosis Clinic, the old clinic in Tanjong Pagar was closed.14

In July 1953, SATA introduced an insurance scheme for individuals and organisations to protect against tuberculosis. Those interested were required to take an initial chest X-ray costing $5 to gauge their eligibility. The insurance premium was set at $1 per month, and coverage included screening and treatment for the disease.15 In 1954, the scheme was extended to cover families.16

In August 1954, Lee Kong Chian donated his South Winds Resort in West Coast to SATA. Subsequently, 10 semi-detached houses were built there for rehabilitation purposes. Together with their family members, former tuberculosis patients who were unable to find jobs could go there to recuperate and gain employment in agriculture, poultry farming or rattan furniture-making. At one point, the rehabilitation centre’s chicken farm was the top egg supplier in Singapore.17

On 14 March 1955, SATA rolled out a mobile treatment service to reach out to patients in the rural areas and those who could not afford to travel to the clinic twice a week for treatment.18

In 1959, SATA launched a mass X-ray campaign using a mobile X-ray unit donated by the American International Assurance in June that year.19 The campaign started on 1 July and covered the Tanjong Pagar area.20 Then on 17 February 1960, a second mass X-ray campaign was launched in the Havelock Road district.21 The third such campaign, which covered Telok Ayer, Tiong Bahru and Bukit Merah, was launched on 16 May 1961. That same year, SATA was admitted as a member of the International Union Against Tuberculosis.22

Due to rising demand for diagnostic services at the Royal Singapore Tuberculosis Clinic, SATA made plans in 1960 to open a regional clinic in Changi. The clinic was to be built on a 6.5-acre plot of land donated to SATA in 1954 by businessman G. Uttamram.23 On 6 April 1961, Singapore’s then Yang di-Pertuan Negara (head of state), Yusof Ishak, laid the foundation stone for the new clinic.24 Named after its donor, the SATA Uttamram Chest Clinic was officially opened on 5 May 1962.25

By the 1960s, the tuberculosis threat had subsided, with cancer and heart disease becoming the top two killer diseases in Singapore. In response to this trend, SATA started a department of cardiology in November 1965 to provide outpatient treatment for heart conditions. The tuberculosis insurance scheme was also extended to cover heart diseases, so as to encourage detection and treatment of heart diseases in the earlier stages.26

In 1967, the Royal Singapore Tuberculosis Clinic was renamed SATA Chest and Heart Clinic.27

Key developments since 1980s
In early 1981, the SATA Chest and Heart Clinic’s premises in Shenton Way were placed under compulsory acquisition.28 Consequently, SATA moved to a new site on Cantonment Road in August 1981. Due to the new building’s smaller area, SATA had to give up certain services, including the rehabilitation programme previously offered in Shenton Way.29

On 18 September 1981, the Ministry of Health stated that annual X-rays to detect tuberculosis should be discontinued because of the harmful radiation exposure that might lead to cancer. BCG vaccination, however, would continue for babies and children.30

In 1990, SATA opened its third clinic in Jurong to serve the residents of Jurong, Clementi, Pasir Panjang and the West Coast. Residents of these areas had constituted about 20 percent of the patients visiting Cantonment Road clinic. The Jurong clinic, which cost S$1.4 million to set up, had a fully computerised system and an X-ray machine that used 95-percent less radiation.31 Two years later, the clinic on Cantonment Road was renovated to also include low-radiation X-ray machines and a fully computerised system. The refurbished clinic was officially opened on 28 November 1992 by then President Wee Kim Wee.32

In the 1980s and 1990s, SATA gradually evolved to provide community healthcare by introducing services and treatments to address common health issues in Singapore. For instance, it rolled out echocardiography tests in 1988, mammography services in 1992, and started testing for the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, in 1993.33

In December 1994, SATA demolished the old Uttamram premises in Chai Chee. A larger building costing S$13 million was to be constructed in its place. The new clinic would provide more services, including laboratory services, CT scans and minor surgeries.34 The foundation-laying ceremony for the new building was held on 18 March 1995.35 That same year, SATA announced that its clinic on Cantonment Road would be relocated to Kreta Ayer.36 SATA’s new Kreta Ayer and Uttamram clinics began operations in late 1996.37

On 23 August 2001, SATA’s fourth clinic, located at the Woodlands Civic Centre, was officially opened.38

In a bid to concentrate its operations in the heartlands, SATA closed the clinic at Kreta Ayer in late 2008. The clinic was relocated to Ang Mo Kio, and commenced operations in early 2009.39

Rebranding
To better reflect its focus on community healthcare, SATA was rebranded into SATA CommHealth in April 2009. While the old SATA logo featured a double-barred Lorraine cross within a shield, the SATA CommHealth logo does not have a shield and the double-barred Lorraine cross was moved to the right. SATA CommHealth retains the SATA acronym to symbolise that it will continue to bring affordable healthcare to the community.40

SATA CommHealth continues to provide healthcare services in Singapore, such as diabetic health checks, while continuing its tuberculosis-detection services. It provided free tuberculosis-screening services in 2016 when a series of tuberculosis infections occurred in Ang Mo Kio.41



Authors
Lee Siew Yeen & Goh Lee Kim



References
1. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, pp. 3, 10. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
2. Lim, K. T., & Lee, M. (1997). Fighting TB: The SATA story, 1947—1997. Singapore: The Association, p. 14. (Call no.: RSING 614.542095957 SIN)
3. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, pp. 4–6. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
4. SATA CommHealth. (2017). Our history. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/about_us/our-history/
5. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 7. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
6. Lim, K. T., & Lee, M. (1997). Fighting TB: The SATA story, 1947—1997. Singapore: The Association, p. 19. (Call no.: RSING 614.542095957 SIN); Lady Gimson opens T.B. clinic. (1948, November 30). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. $100,000 T.B. clinic to open. (1948, November 5). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. T.B. surveys in S’pore schools. (1948, November 30). The Singapore Free Press, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. 2,000 T.B. patients a month. (1949, September 1). The Straits Times, p. 7; Million a year to fight T.B.. (1949, September 3). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 6. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
11. B.C.G. starts this week. (1949, June 12). Sunday Tribune (Singapore), p. 1; TB immunisation of children begins. (1949, June 29). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Royal TB Clinic gets face lift. (1952, October 19). Singapore Standard, p. 3; Royal recognition for TB fight. (1952, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 8. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
14. Royal TB Clinic gets face lift. (1952, October 19). Singapore Standard, p. 3; Royal recognition for TB fight. (1952, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. TB insurance is under way. (1953, July 5). Sunday Standard, p. 1; Hundreds insure against T.B. (1953, October 6). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. T.B. protection for dollar a month. (1954, June 24). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 6. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf; SATA CommHealth. (2017). Our history. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/about_us/our-history/
18. South Winds – It’s now home. (1955, April 13). Singapore Standard, p. 5; SATA begins new mobile clinic service. (1955, March 9). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. AIA gifts to SATA X-ray unit. (1959, June 4). Singapore Standard, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Good start for SATA X-ray drive. (1959, July 9). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5; X-ray drive proves a big success. (1959, August 8). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. SATA starts new X-ray campaign. (1960, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. SATA work gets world recognition. (1961, May 15). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, pp. 7, 9–10. Retrieved 2017, February 24 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf; SATA to build regional clinic in Changi. (1960, April 14). The Straits Times, p. 4; South Winds – It’s now home. (1955, April 13). Singapore Standard, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Foundation stone for new clinic laid. (1961, April 6). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. The aim: Complete control over TB in ten years. (1962, May 6). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. SATA now also waging war on heart disease. (1966, January 19). The Straits Times, p. 4; 10,000 sign up for Sata’s new ‘heart care’ scheme. (1966, April 29). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 10. Retrieved 2017, March 8 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
28. Sata ‘no’ to $4m offer for its premises. (1981, January 13). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Sata HQ to move to new site in August. (1981, June 17). New Nation, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Tan, B. (1981, September 19). X-rays for TB could be harmful says ministry. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Sata clinic in Jurong East. (1990, April 25). The Straits Times, p. 25; New Sata clinic in Jurong. (1990, October 8). The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Sata’s Cantonment Road clinic opens after $2.8 m restoration. (1992, November 29). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 12. Retrieved 2017, March 8 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
34. Sata clinic to close. (1994, November 23). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Sata to vacate Cantonment Rd clinic. (1995, March 19). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Sata to move to Kreta Ayer by next November. (1995, July 4). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 13. Retrieved 2017, March 8 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf; Sata’s main clinic to be moved to Chai Chee. (1996, October 23). The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Kaur, S. (2001, August 24). Then and now: ‘Mind-boggling’ change. The Straits Times, p. 1; Siti Andrianie. (2001, January 21). One-stop govt centre in the north. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 14. Retrieved 2017, March 8 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
40. SATA CommHealth. (2012). The SATA Story: Celebrating 65 years of caring for the community. Singapore: Author, p. 16. Retrieved 2017, March 8 from SATA CommHealth website: http://www.sata.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SATA-e-book_v7_9Oct12_FINAL.pdf
41. Teo, J. (2016, November 29). Health diary: Maintaining oral health. The Straits Times; Yeo, S. J. (2016, June 16). TB cases in Ang Mo Kio: Worried residents say they’ll get screened. The Straits Times. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Public health
Associations, institutions, etc.--Singapore
Health and medicine>>Diseases>>Tuberculosis
Law and government>>Health services
Organisations
Organisations>>Associations
Tuberculosis--Singapore
Politics and Government>>Health